Making History – The First Hackathon Inside the historic New York City Hall 

New York City Hall’s first hackathon participants.

In partnership with the Department of Education’s Computer Science for All and NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and Technology Committee Chair Council Member Peter Koo, BetaNYC co-hosted 130 students and 30 teachers in the City’s historic Council Chambers for the finale of the second annual Hack League. These Twenty-eight teams, from all five boroughs, used municipal open data and media literacy skills to identify community concerns, and computer science concepts to build prototypes to address the final challenge — identifying internal and external metrics, potential stakeholders, and extending their prototypes.

A special thank you to the City’s Computer Science for All teachers who took our initial curriculum and tailored it to your students and made this event possible! THANK YOU!

Computer Science for All is part of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza’s Equity and Excellence for All initiatives. Finalists in this year’s Hack League included projects, apps and games designed to advocate for environmental sustainability and trash reduction, to solve the deer epidemic on Staten Island, and to reduce obesity and help people eat better and stay fit in New York City.

From December 2018 though March 2019, students from all district middle and high schools were invited to use computer science concepts and open data from their school neighborhoods to solve problems impacting their communities. Approximately 1,700 students across all five boroughs participated in the league. In order to make it to the final, teams had to win their school-based competition, followed by a borough-wide competition.

At the borough and city wide competition, middle school and high school students competed by presenting their projects to panels of esteemed guest judges from the government agencies, the city’s public interest technology community, non-profit service providers, and to New York City Council Members. Chancellor Carranza crowned the winning teams from the six public schools!

Congratulations to the following schools for winning!

High School

  • 1st Place: International High School at Lafayette, Brooklyn
  • 2nd Place: Manhattan Bridges High School, Manhattan
  • 3rd Place: Millennium Art Academy, Bronx

Middle School

  • 1st Place: The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, Queens
  • 2nd Place: Marsh Avenue School for Expeditionary Learning, Staten Island
  • 3rd Place: Parkside Preparatory Academy, Brooklyn

Photos from NYC School’s archive < >

Photos from NYC Council’s Flickr < >

High School Winners

1st place: “Busted”

International High School at Lafayette (Brooklyn)

What: A bus app for teenagers that provides real time data of the issues we normally face with our MTA bus lines so we can find another mode of transportation to get to school.

Problem: We took a survey at our school to find out number of times per week students are late to school because of a full, late or non-existent bus. We found that 75.7% of students surveyed get to school late because of a full, late or non-existent bus at least once per week.

Impact: The ultimate impact we expect to have through our project is MTA to take notice of the issue high school students face with MTA buses daily on their way to school.

Goals/Metrics: We will evaluate our progress by monitoring types of issues that students will report in real time. We’ll know we are achieving it when we will have more High School students reporting their problems related to MTA buses and MTA actually deciding to solve this issue.

2nd place: “Heat Track”

Manhattan Bridges High School (Manhattan)

What: Our app records the inside temperature that tenants are exposed to. If they are exposed to either very cold or hot temperatures, landlords are notified in a way that they can take action and fix the problem.

Problem: We analyzed a graph extracted from BoardStat v.06 from the year 2018. It portrays the complaints reported to 311 and HPD. There were 12K complaints concerning heating in buildings.

Impact: Our mission is to innovate the way heat problems are dealt with in our communities and make the lives of tenants easier.

Goals/Metrics: Our goal is to decrease the number of 311 heat related reports in Manhattan Community District 12; to increase the number of positive #HeatTack messages; and to increase the number of application users.

3rd place: “Safety1st”

Millennium Art Academy (Bronx)

What: A bilingual emergency alert system / application for school students that keeps them safe and informed in school.

Problem: We recognized crime reports have been decreasing. However, the number of crime and other incidents reported in schools is not evident in a database such as BoardStat, ie NYC311 data. Our project will collect, track and answer peoples concern on this topic as well as helping school safety be more responsive.

Impact: “The ultimate impact we expect to have through our project is not to stop crime, but to further prevent it as best as we can in or around schools like ours. We hope to not only allow students to feel safe, but to increase civic engagement and awareness.”

Goals/Metrics: We will monitor the number of times we see a student inputting incident reports; the amount of times students log into the app; ratings on school safety; and NYPD COMPStat 2.0. Our goal is to see the amount of incidents being reported dropping; better interactions between students and Safety Agents; and a safer environment in and around school.

Middle School Winners

1st place: “Trash Go! NYC”

Young Women’s Leadership School Of Astoria (Queens)

What: An app that uses GPS to locate the nearest trash can. Users earn coins they can direct to environmental organizations by throwing out trash.

Problem: “On average there are 713 calls about sanitation in Queens each month. Manhattan has plenty of trash cans compared to Astoria.”

Impact: “Our app, TrashGo! NYC, will decrease the amount of litter on the streets of NYC for all people while helping improve our environment. Our target is to decrease the amount of trash related complaints by 14% in the first 3 months.”

Goals/Metrics: We will evaluate our progress by monitoring: the amount of 311 complaints and calls about trash, app usage and location, and money donated through our application. Our goal is to decrease the amount of trash related complaints by 14% in the first 3 months, obtain 50 active users* in the first month and grow exponentially over the next 6 months, and donate $3,000 to environmental organizations within three months.”

2nd place: “Oh, Deer”

IS/63 Marsh Avenue School for Expeditionary Learning (Staten Island)

What: Oh Deer is an initiative to educate the public and build infrastructure to stop the growing deer epidemic on Staten Island. Our application provides the public with a center of information about the deer epidemic, a game representing deer migration from New Jersey to Staten Island, and a way to report deer observed.

Problem:  There has been a 9000% Increase in deer population located in Staten Island in the last 10 years. There were 103 deer-related car accidents in Staten Island in 2018 (99 in 2017). $300,000- $800,000 was spent over government budget to protect deers and perform deer vasectomies. Almost everyone on Staten island is impacted by the large numbers of deers living in the island one way or another from health, safety, ecosystem imbalance, traffic control, land usage, government finance.

Impact: “The ultimate impact we expect to have through our project is to ease the deer epidemic on Staten Island. We will evaluate our progress by monitoring our connection with the NYSDEC and NYC Parks  and also through local health and traffic reports. We will know we are achieving your goal when we can see a 70% decrease in the deer population by the year 2030.”

Goals/Metrics: With our product we will be able to help stop increasing growth of deer by preventing the male deer from coming from Jersey and mating with the female deers from Staten Island. Our goal is to reach around 750-800 because Staten Island total square mile is 58.2 square miles and according to the U.S. Forest Service the healthy amount of deer in each square mile is 20 deer. That would mean that 1,160 deer can fit in Staten Island not counting developed land but due to the fact that we have all this developed land we would like to keep the population in that number in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem and a healthy relationship with the deer.”

3rd Place: “Hero Foods”

Parkside Preparatory Academy (Brooklyn)

What: The HERO FOODS app provides students with a way to order restaurant quality,

organic and non GMO lunches and have them delivered to them in school so that students who are in need of nutritional value and have special requirements. (e.g. health conditions,

financial conditions) can meet their nutritional needs. Proceeds from HERO FOODS will be used to support families in need via KID PANTRY and other food empowerment programs.

Problem: Finding quality and nutritious food in our community is very difficult. A survey of 219

students at Parkside Preparatory Academy, by our team, Eco Goods, showed that 65% of PPA students did not eat SCHOOL LUNCH consistently. And America squanders $1.2Billion via school lunch annually of the estimated $218 billion in food wasted in America each year. We found that kids dump their lunches and choose to eat unhealthy snacks or not eat at all everyday.

Impact: “Hero Foods will provide nutritious food options, support healthy growth and development, help the community, create jobs, save money, and reduce waste. Ultimately we expect our project to: provide better, more nutritious food for students; reduce the waste of school lunch and reduce the money that parents waste on food that is thrown out.

Goals / Metrics: We will evaluate our progress by having a progress bar within the app (transparent for all users and ourselves) well know we are achieving it when we are 100% waste free and almost all students are using the app.”

Congratulations to the following teams for receiving honorable mentions for their following achievements.

High School


  • “Heating for All”, Queens High School for Information, Research, and Technology
  • “Seagull Security”, Staten Island Technical High School (Staten Island) *based on points

Problem Analysis

  • “More than a Room”, Metropolitan Diploma Plus High School (Brooklyn)
  • “ComUnit”, Bronx Academy for Software Engineering (Bronx) *based on points

Technical Complexity:

  • “The Hemera Project”, Susan E. Wagner High School
  • “Trashbot”, Forest Hills High School  (Queens) *based on points

Iterative Development:

  • “Helping the Future Stay on Track”, Wings Academy (Bronx)
  • “Transit for All”, Port Richmond High School (Staten Island)  *based on points

Metrics and Outcomes:

  • “Home”, Academy of Innovative Technology (Brooklyn)  *based on points
  • “Rat Radar”, School of The Future (Manhattan)  *based on points

Stakeholder Engagement:

  • “Roofs4All”, Young’s Women’s Leadership School Of Astoria (Queens) *based on points

Middle School


  • “Bronx Noise App”, MS 223 (Bronx)
  • “E-Waste Drop-Off Bin”, I.S. 34 Tottenville (Staten Island)

Problem Analysis

  • “Crime Near Me”, PS/MS 129 (Manhattan)
  • “LEIC”, International School For Liberal Arts (Bronx)

Technical Complexity:

  • “Bob The Healthy Helper”, PS/MS89 (Bronx)
  • “Excel Growth”, Mark Twain IS 239 (Brooklyn)

Iterative Development:

  • “Behind the Bars”, 30th Avenue School (Queens)

Metrics and Outcomes:

  • Organization.Go, Gordon Parks School (Queens)
  • “The Driverless Taxi App”, School of the Future (Manhattan)

Stakeholder Engagement:

  • “School Bay”, IS 392 (Brooklyn)
  • “MAAX Parking Problems”, Staten Island School of Civic Leadership (Staten Island)

Students were judged by an illustrious panel of judges including:

  • Sami Baig, Director of Open Data Engineering, OpenGov, Inc
  • Shubha Bala, Director of Technology, Center for Court Innovation
  • Dawn Barber, co-founder NY Creative Tech Week
  • Darren Bloch, Director Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships
  • M.  Alby Bocanegra, Chief Technology Officer, Interim Mayor’s Office of the CTO
  • Gillian Boehringer, Solution Architect, Amazon Web Services
  • John Paul Farmer, Managing Director, Microsoft Cities
  • Fryda Guedes, Data Manager, New York Civic Engagement Table
  • Song Hia, Product Manager, Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity
  • Kelly Jin, Chief Analytics Officer, City of New York
  • Andrea Jordan, Vice President, Programs Girls Who Code
  • Hillary Kolos, Director of Digital Learning, DreamYard
  • Alan Leidner, President, NYC GISMO
  • Joe Morrisroe, Executive Director, City of New York – NYC311
  • Adam Parker, Senior Designer, Reboot
  • Quiessence Phillips, Deputy CISO, Threat Management, NYC Cyber Command
  • Tim Reitzes, Designer Service Design Studio, Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity
  • Jeff Thamkittikasem, Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Operations
  • Albert Webber, Director, Open Data, Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications
  • Joshua Wyrtzen, Product Manager, Mobile Mr.
  • Benjamin Yee, Public Interest Technologist & Community Organizer
  • Cordelia Yu, Content Strategist, 18F

About the City’s Computer Science for All program and Hack League:

Through NYC’s Computer Science for All program – part of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda – the City will provide computer science education in every elementary, middle, and high school by 2025.

Progress under the Computer Science for All initiative includes:

  • As of the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, approximately 1,608 teachers have started Computer Science for All training to bring back to their 712 elementary, middle and high schools.
  • The number of students taking an AP Computer Science exam in 2018 rose to 5,190, a more than fourfold increase from 1,137 students in 2016.
  • The number of Black and Hispanic students taking AP Computer Science exams has increased by 55 percent and 46 percent respectively since 2017. New York City Black and Hispanic students represent 13 percent and 6 percent of the Black and Hispanic AP Computer Science Principles test takers nationwide.
  • The 44 percent increase in students participating in CS education, which is driven by specific Computer Science for All training and investments, as well as schools launching and expanding their own CS programming aligned to the initiative.
  • As part of Computer Science for All, the City has created a CS4All Blueprint to help educators and school communities integrate computer science into classrooms.

Quotes about Hack League:

“Partnering with the CS4All Initiative at the DOE has been an amazing opportunity to unleash the potential of open data for public good,” said Noel Hidalgo, Executive Director of BetaNYC. “We’re proud to have trained over 100 teachers who engaged over 1,700 students in this year’s Hack League where they used open data to help their communities. CS4All’s Comprehensive Blueprint for a meaningful computer science education includes citizenship as one of its end goals. Hack League and today’s event shows just what the combination of those two can produce. Inviting the young civic tech leaders of tomorrow into City Hall is paving the way for 21st century civic participation. Thank you Speaker Johnson, Council Member Peter Koo, and Council Member Mark Treyger for hosting us at City Hall. We hope the students will come back to City Hall in many different roles in the years to come.”

“Our democracy needs young people to raise their voices and the CS4All Hack League gives them the opportunity to take the computer science concepts they’ve learned in school and solve real problems in their communities,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This is our vision of equity and excellence in action, and I know these students are learning the skills and putting forward the ideas that will drive them and our City forward. Congratulations to our Hack League winners!”

“The Computer Science for All Hack League gives our students a meaningful and fun way to apply computer science skills to issues that matter in their communities,” said NYC Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “The competition is a creative way to drum up excitement for STEM while increasing equity in computer science learning and civic engagement. Thank you to the families, principals, teachers, City Council, and partner organizations who made the Hack League a reality, and congratulations to our student participants.”

“The Hack League is an excellent way for CS4All students to apply their CS knowledge and imagination to address real issues in our communities,” said Fred Wilson, Founder of the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education (CSNYC). “It was great to see such a diverse group of hard-working, creative and energetic students. They represent a bright future for New York City’s next generation of tech employees. Events like these showcase the results of a successful private-public partnership like CS4All.”

“The City Council was proud to host the Computer Science for All Hack League and I congratulate each and every student who participated Wednesday,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “It’s important to encourage New York City students to be civically engaged and to explore 21st century subjects like computer science, and I thank the DOE and BetaNYC for putting together an event that does both so effectively. The students involved in this event together represent the incredible diversity of our city and are an inspiration to me and to this entire Council.”

“It was great to see nearly 130 young people fill City Hall and use the Open Data Portal that I helped establish during my time in City Council to compete in this great event,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Students did a phenomenal job identifying key issues and creating solutions—I hope some of our city agencies were taking notes! A huge thank you to BetaNYC, and the CS4All team for putting together the Hack League competitions this year throughout the city. Congratulations to Manhattan Bridges High School for their 2nd place finish!”

“Tech is a burgeoning industry on Staten Island, so I am glad to see the Staten Island middle schools and high schools that are involved with Computer Science for All,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “This is a very important step for our Borough’s schools that will ensure our students are prepared and educated for the future of our workforce.”

“Congratulations to all to the participants in this year’s Computer Science for All Hack League, especially to those from the five Queens schools that were finalists in the competition,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “The competition was an amazing opportunity for students to apply the skills they learned in the classroom to real world issues that one day may be solved through the application of computer science and technology.”

“STEM education connects our students to many of the most in-demand career opportunities of today and tomorrow, and the Hack League is a great way to get students thinking critically and creatively, skills that come in handy in any field of work,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education.“Congratulations to all of the students who participated, and thank you to Chancellor Carranza and all the parents, educators and partners who made this possible.”

“Our Computer Science Hack League is an amazing opportunity to inspire and cultivate the local tech talent of NYC’s kids by challenging them to use open data to solve everyday civic problems,” said Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Committee on Technology. “As Chair of the Council Committee on Technology, I was proud to bring this Hack League to City Hall so that we may continue to provide new and exciting opportunities for our young people to expand their computer science education.”

“Computer science is a valuable skill that it becoming more and more integral to all careers, and it deserves a prominent place in our schools,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “Wednesday’s Hackathon gave students a fun opportunity in City Hall Chambers to put those computer science skills to use trying to solve some of our everyday problems. I enjoyed visiting the teams at City Hall, and I look forward to the day that these students’ talent and vision make a real difference in our communities.”

“What a great way for students to advance their STEM education and at the same time invent solutions to real-world issues right here in New York,” said State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud. “I commend the DOE and all the organizations, school personnel, families and students who participated in this year’s Hack League; and congratulations to the finalists, especially my district’s very own Metropolitan Diploma Plus HS.”

“I want to extend my congratulations to the entire group of finalist that participated in the Computer Science for All Hack League competition,” said Assembly Member Charles D. Fall. “I am especially proud of the finalists from Port Richmond High School for taking the innovative initiative towards improving our communities on the North Shore of Staten Island. I am proud to see so many young students taking an interest in computer science and civic duty in order to solve some of the pressing issues in our current society, such as environment sustainability, recycling, trash reduction, reducing obesity and encouraging healthier lifestyles to all New Yorkers.”

“Computers in the digital age have connected communities, allowing them to organize like never before in an effort to solve some of the most basic quality of life issues,” said Assembly Member Michael Reilly. “I commend all the winners of this contest for their creativity and civic dedication, but more importantly, I want to congratulate my fellow Staten Islanders on this achievement!”  

“Computer science is a critical skill for all students in the 21st century,” said Assembly Member Diana C. Richardson. “I commend Principal Spencer and all of the staff at Parkside Preparatory Academy for their commitment to the students and parents of this amazing school. I also, of course, want to congratulate the students participating in the CS4All Hack League event on making it to the finals. We are very proud of you.”

“I am very pleased to learn that I.S. 392, one of the educational jewels in the crown of Brownsville, Brooklyn has made it to the final stage of this worthwhile competition,” said Assembly Member Latrice Walker. “Computer Science continues to evolve at a rapid pace. This competition has been a fun, learning experience for the students, while preparing them for future success.”

2018-19 Hack League Finalists are from the following schools:

The Bronx

  • Bronx Academy for Software Engineering (BASE)
  • International School for Liberal Arts
  • Millennium Art Academy
  • The Laboratory School of Finance & Technology
  • PS 89
  • Wings Academy


  • Academy of Innovative Technology
  • International High School at Lafayette
  • IS 392
  • Mark Twain IS 239 for the Gifted & Talented
  • Metropolitan Diploma Plus High School
  • Parkside Preparatory Academy


  • Manhattan Bridges High School
  • PS 129 John H. Finley
  • School of the Future High School


  • The 30th Avenue School
  • Forest Hills High School
  • The Gordon Parks School
  • Queens High School for Information, Research, and Technology
  • Young Women’s Leadership School, Astoria

Staten Island

  • IS 34 Tottenville
  • Marsh Avenue School for Expeditionary Learning
  • Port Richmond High School
  • Susan E. Wagner High School
  • Staten Island School of Civic Leadership
  • Staten Island Technical High School

Thank you event partners:

  • The Bronx – Hostos Community College
  • Brooklyn – Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and the staff at Brooklyn Borough Hall
  • Manhattan – Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and the staff at The David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building
  • Queens – Laguardia Community College
  • Staten Island – Staten Island Borough President James Oddo and the staff at the Staten Island Borough President’s Hall of Science

Thank you participating schools:

  • 30th Avenue School
  • Abraham Lincoln High School
  • Academy of Innovative Technology
  • Bayside High School
  • Bronx Academy for Software Engineering
  • Brooklyn Technical High School
  • Collegiate Institute for Math and Science
  • Crotona International High School/BASE
  • Eagle Academy For Young Men of Harlem
  • Forest Hills High School
  • Gordon Parks School
  • I.S. 027 Anning S. Prall
  • I.S. 075
  • I.S. 49
  • I.S.7 Elias Bernstein
  • Information Technology High School
  • International High School at Lafayette
  • International School For Liberal Arts
  • IS 34
  • IS 392
  • IS 48
  • IS 61
  • IS 63/MAELS
  • J.H.S. 220 John J. Pershing
  • JHS 157 Halsey
  • JHS 185 Edward Bleeker
  • Manhattan Bridges High School
  • Mark Twain IS 239
  • Metropolitan Diploma Plus High School
  • Millennium Art Academy
  • MS 223
  • MS74
  • P.O. Rocco Laurie IS 72
  • P.S. 126 Jacob August Riis
  • P.S. 129 John H. Finley
  • P.S.126  Jacob August Riis
  • P.S/I.S/48
  • Parkside Preparatory Academy
  • Port Richmond High School
  • PS 126 MAT
  • PS/MS 129
  • PS/MS 89
  • Queens High School for Information, Research, and Technology
  • Ralph R Mckee
  • Redwood Middle School
  • Robert F Wagner
  • Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Secondary School for Arts and Technology
  • Robert H Goddard
  • School of The Future
  • Staten Island School of Civic Leadership
  • Staten Island Technical High School
  • Susan E. Wagner
  • The Urban Assembly Maker Academy
  • The Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management
  • Tottenville High School
  • Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology
  • Urban Assembly Maker Academy
  • Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management
  • Wings Academy
  • York Early College Academy
  • Young’s Women’s Leadership School Of Astoria

Lastly, thank you Fund for the City of New York and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for your ongoing support of BetaNYC’s work to demystify government and make open data work for all.